Jets edge out Phoenix

The Newcastle Jets have maintained their recent run of good form in the Hyundai A-League with a convincing 1-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix in front of a season-best crowd of 12,147 at EnergyAustarlia Stadium on Saturday night.

The Newcastle Jets have maintain their recent good form in the Hyundai A-League with a strong 1-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix in front of a season-best crowd of 12,147 at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Saturday night.

The Jets enjoyed the majority of possession and territory in the first half but weren’t able to capitalise on a number of half chances. But a swift flowing movement in the 55th minute saw Marko Jesic score his third goal of the season and hand all three points to Branko Culina’s men.

The win moves the Jets up into seventh place above the Phoenix and Glory while Wellington have now lost three of the past four matches to slip to eighth place on the Hyundai A-League ladder.

Jets’ coach Branko Culina said he was extremely pleased with his side’s ability to grind out their third result in seven days.

“I thought the boys were terrific,” he said after the match. “And whilst probably not as brilliant as Wednesday and last Saturday I thought we were still very, very good and played some nice football.”

Meanwhile, Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert was understandably disappointed with the result.

“We just looked like side that can’t win at the moment which is frustrating,” he said.

“It was important for us tonight and to come away with nothing is disappointing.”

The match started in perfect conditions in front of Newcastle’s biggest home crowd of the season and for the opening 20 minutes it was a midfield battle that slightly favoured the home side.

The Jets had the first real opportunity of the match in the 23rd minute when a Kasey Wehrman corner found tall defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley on the edge of the six-yard box, but he sent his header just over the crossbar.

Newcastle threatened again moments later when English import Francis Jeffers took play to the byline before squeezing the ball back to Tarek Elrich. He hooked a pass into the path of Jesic, who saw his shot from 10 metres blocked on the line by Ben Sigmund.

The Jets had another chance five minutes later after some enterprising play down the right wing between Elrich and Ali Abbas created space inside the penalty area for an unmarked Jesic. He streaked towards goal before dragging his shot past the far post and the teams went to the half-time break locked at 0-0.

The Phoenix opened the second half the better of the two teams and they started to create a few half chances primarily down the right side of the park through Troy Hearfield, Nicky Ward and Leo Bertos.

But it was the Jets who broke the deadlock in the 55th minute with some lovely passing through the midfield.

Ben Kantarovski pushed forward through the middle of the park before finding Abbas on the left flank. The Iraqi international provided a nice through ball for Jesic who took the ball in the area before propping, turning and shooting a curling right-foot shot that skimmed off the far post and into the corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Jesic went close again just a few moments later when he was put into an acre of space by a deft ball from Jeffers but this time the young Newcastle striker fired his shot from the edge of the area just wide of the far post.

The Jets received a body blow when key defender Topor-Stanley succumbed to a knee injury in the 70th minute, which signalled the return of Jobe Wheelhouse from a long-term injury. The Phoenix replaced Leo Bertos and Chris Greenache with Daniel and former Jet Mirjan Pavlovic, while moments later Jeffers was replaced by Sean Rooney.

Rooney himself then had to be replaced by Sasho Petrovski when he seemed to pick up a knee injury in the 80th minute.

The Phoenix threw everything at the Jets in the final 10 minutes in the hope of salvaging a draw as Paul Ifill and Pavlovic threatened with headers in the box, but the Jets defence was up to the challenge and managed to shut out the visitors for their third win of the season.

Newcastle Jets 1 (Jesic 55)
Wellington Phoenix 0
Crowd 12,147 At EnergyAustralia Stadium